Today, May 30, Cecilia Olovsdotter (Swedish Institute in Rome) will give a talk entitled “The eternal cycle of Roman victory: Victoria and the conquest of the world in the visual culture of the Roman Empire (and beyond)”, as part of the lecture series Bridges, organised by the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome. 

Victoria and the conquest of the world in the visual culture of the Roman Empire (and beyond) Victory was the most central and wide-ranging component in the historical and theological construction of Roman military expansion and power, closely interwoven with beliefs and ideas about the workings of the divine in human affairs, about liminality, good fortune, peace, and regeneration. In the art of the Roman Empire, the victory-goddess Victoria appeared as an
active agent and co-creator of Roman history, protecting and guiding the emperor in his military endeavours, rewarding him with her gift of victory, sharing in his triumphs, and rejoicing in the earthly prosperity and cosmic renewal resulting from Roman dominion and peace; she was the numinous quality of victoria inherent in the imperial person, her presence by his side reflecting and confirming his suprahuman status, and when he passed from this life she followed him into apotheosis. In late antiquity, when the Roman empire shrunk and disintegrated and the
emperor’s vows for victory were offered to the Christian god, Victoria’s image became more widespread than ever before, evolving into a transcending figure of universal relevance. In this lecture Victoria’s place and agency in the visual epic of Roman conquest will be traced through all its stages, and through works from the Urbs and around the empire, from Hispania in the West to Greece in the East and beyond, concluding with some reflections on how physical and metaphysical notions of Roman victory shaped the visual embodiment(s) of Victoria.

Cecilia Olovsdotter received her doctorate in classical archaeology and her MA in art history from the University of Gothenburg. She has been a Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Fellow and a Senior Research Fellow funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation/Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities at the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, and a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Classics, University of Texas at Austin, and is currently affiliated as a Senior Research Fellow to the Swedish Institute of Classical Studies Rome. Her area of research is Roman and Early Byzantine art and architecture in context, with special focuses on the triumphal traditions of commemorative and religious art (polytheistic and Christian), continuities in the Roman visual language of power, status, and immortality (transcendence), and symbolic aspects of image construction and imaged architecture. Olovsdotter has just finished a monograph on Victoria and cosmic conceptions of victory in the visual culture of the
Late-Roman Empire. Visit her profile at academia

The lecture will be given in a hybrid format on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, at 19h Athens time (18h Rome), with live presence at the Swedish Institute of Classical Studies in Rome, Via Omero 14, and online via Zoom Link.

Meeting ID: 879 0617 5602
Passcode: 286325

To participate, please register at: [email protected]